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A Life in Music & Show Business

by Gene Hull

Pub Date: April 15th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0981972787

A musician reflects on his career and experiences from the Depression Era through the present.

Hull brings to life his years as a big band leader and musician, starting with his youth in Bridgeport, Conn., where he was encouraged by a musical mother—a bandleader who eventually retired to raise her children. Strong memories include carrying his sax on the bus in a pillowcase—the family couldn’t afford a proper case—to go hear music locally, and hopefully be called on to play. He wasn’t. Undaunted, Hull starts his own band, plays with others and goes to college. He gets married and has eight children along the way, though the marriage eventually ends in divorce after suffering through long separations due to Hull’s life on the road. He forms the Jazz Giants, who get a rare opportunity to play the 1962 Newport Jazz Festival—a high point in his career. Afterward, the band discovers the recording is of poor quality and plans for an album are scrapped. He meets famous people such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie and aspires to bigger fame. In the ’70s, he scales down to a lounge act of six people and gets into the Las Vegas scene by backing up Vic Damone with a string ensemble. Later in life, he produces cruise-ship shows. Eventually Hull’s son locates a CD from an Armed Services Radio recording of the Newport Festival via the Library of Congress. Although Hull presents a vividly described and engaging memoir, full enjoyment of the author’s adventures is somewhat hindered by the thought of his wife home alone raising eight kids. Also, he ends some chapters with alternate endings of how things might have been, then employs a “voice of conscience” to remind him to say what actually happened, which can be distracting. But Hull’s life is an interesting one, nonetheless.

A lively, indulgent memoir.